Happy Chinese New Year!

It is the year of Rabbit! Happy New Year to all Chinese and other races who celebrate Lunar New Year like Koreans and Vietnamese. One interesting thing I learnt about Vietnamese is that their zodiac animal for this year is cat and not rabbit because very long ago when the zodiac animals were brought into Vietnam from China, rabbit in Mandarin sounded like cat in Vietnamese. So the Vietnamese thought the zodiac animal of rabbit was cat instead. Up till today, they still use cat as their zodiac animal. Animals aside, I got a good number of days of off for my New year celebrations. I was supposed to work from 初2 to 初4, but I got an off for tomorrow, which is quite good since I have lots of gathering and visiting to do tomorrow. So so far NS life is good for me. I have not much complaints. I just hope everything goes on smoothly without any glitches.

Anyway, speaking about visiting, I have visited relatives both from my mother’s and father’s families. I will be visiting my friends’ houses tomorrow, and more relatives will be coming to my house. I  learnt something really new today at my uncle’s house! I managed to trace my family’s ancestral roots and found out that our ancestors came from Kinmen, Taiwan! So theoretically, we originated from Taiwan and not China. According to Wikipedia, Kinmen (金門), also known as Quemoy, is a small archipelago of several islands administered by the Republic of China (ROC aka Taiwan): Greater Kinmen (大金門),Lesser Kinmen, and some islets. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, Republic of China( Taiwan). The county is claimed as part of Fujian‘s Quanzhou Prefecture by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Some islands of other counties, such as Wuchiu, were transferred to the jurisdiction of Kinmen County by the ROC government following its civil war defeat and retreat to Taiwan. Matsu is the other set of islands on the Fujian coast controlled by the ROC.

I also learnt that Kinmen was never ceded to Japan, because Kinmen was, and still is considered to be a part of Fujian province, both to the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China, though Kinmen was occupied by Japan from 1937 to 1945.  The archipelago was the site of many great battles between China’s Communist Party and the KMT troops who fled to Taiwan in 1949 — battles such as Guningtou Battle in 1949, Dadan Battle, and the Bombardment of August 23, 1958 — all of which attracted worldwide attention. Millions of artillery shells and bullets have been showered on the small islands of Kinmen, being also a major issue in the1960 United States Presidential Election between Kennedy and Nixon. In the 1950s, the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons against the PRC if it attacked the island.

From what I believe, if I go back to Kinmen and start tracing my roots, I will be able to find my ancestral village which will have records of all my ancestors from the Tay family. Isnt this amazing?! While my great-grandfather came from Kinmen, another interesting part of my ancestral roots is that my great-grandmother is actually a pure Peranakan! Therefore, it is also possible that I have a mixture of both Chinese and Malay blood. ( Do look up on internet if you do not know the meaning of Peranakan and its culture). The fact that I come from both culturally rich ancestors makes me even more interested to learn more about the Fujian and Peranakan culture. Although today my family do not practise Peranakan culture, we do have certain treasures kept in the family that prove that we were once from prominent Peranakan families in Singapore who originated from Malacca in Malaysia. My uncle told me that our great-grandparents owned a plot of land and drove big cars and they got rich through opium trade. It was only when there was a opium trading crackdown in Singapore in the mid 20th century that ended the luxurious lives that our ancestors once had. I am both stunned and surprised over the rich history of my ancestors which was never told to me before. If I have the chance, I will definitely visit Kinmen and Malacca to learn more about the history of my roots.

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